Saturday, January 14, 2023

"The Culture Trap"

New from Oxford University Press: The Culture Trap: Ethnic Expectations and Unequal Schooling for Black Youth by Derron Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:

In The Culture Trap, Derron Wallace argues that the overreliance on culture to explain Black students' achievement and behavior in schools is a trap that undermines the historical factors and institutional processes that shape how Black students experience schooling. This trap is consequential for a host of racial and ethnic minority youth in schools, including Black Caribbean young people in London and New York City. Since the 1920s, Black Caribbeans in New York have been considered a high-achieving Black model minority. Conversely, since the 1950s, Black Caribbeans in London have been regarded as a chronically underachieving minority. In both contexts, however, it is often suggested that Caribbean culture informs their status, whether as a celebrated minority in the US or as a demoted minority in Britain.

Drawing on rich ethnographic observations, as well as interview and archival data from two of the largest public schools in London and New York City, Wallace interrogates the fault lines of these claims, and highlights the influence of colonialism, class, and context in shaping Black Caribbeans' educational experiences. As racial and ethnic achievement gaps and discussions about what to do about them persist in the US and Britain, Wallace shows how culture is at times used as an alibi for racism in schools, and points out what educators, parents, and students can do to change it.
--Marshal Zeringue